Chargers, Raiders Preview

By Donald Ellis

By Donald Ellis

We are only months away from another exciting season of 1,000 yard running backs, devastating blind sides and overtime victories. In short I’m referring to the 2005-2006 NFL season.

The city of San Diego has a lot to offer. Beautiful scenery, surf, sand, weather, and as of last season a contender in the Chargers. This team had a fantastic run that was capped off with capturing the divisional championship. After four seasons that produced a record of 18 and 46, 2004 was a welcomed breath of fresh air. Quarterback Drew Brees was on the verge of having the rug pulled from under him before he came on like gangbusters. Brees threw for 3,159 yards and 27 touchdowns. But along with his accomplishments, he had an amazing supporting cast that featured a breakout year for tight end Antonio Gates and another solid performance from running back LaDainian Tomlinson.

As the season progressed, Gates became a favorite target for Brees. The proof is in the numbers. Typically a wide receiver leads the team in numerous categories such as receptions, yards, etc. But Gates changed all of that. He led the team in receptions (81), receiving yards (964), and touchdowns (13). But to have a successful offense, you need to have a balanced attack and that’s how Tomlinson fits into the equation.

Production has not been a problem for him. Although he only has a few years of professional experience, his stats are consistently strong.

Rushing for 1,335 yards and 17 touchdowns would make any offensive coordinator smile from ear to ear.

And it appears the Chargers have every intention to pick up right where they left off. In April’s NFL draft, they used their first two selections on the defensive side of the ball, while picking up some prime talent in the later rounds. Running back Darren Sproles who was chosen in the fourth round was a work horse during his college career at Kansas State racking up nearly 5,000 career rushing yards for the wildcats, and surprisingly enough, offensive guard Wes Sims who helped anchor one of best offensive lines assembled at the University of Oklahoma was taken in round six.

San Diego had a lot to cheer about last season, and by the looks of things, the trend in going to carry over in the fall.

But if you head up the coast to Oakland, a different picture is being painted. The Raiders suffered a very disappointing season. In fact, it was almost mirrored from the 2003 season. Only winning three home games last year, the Raiders are looking to climb from the basement of the American Football Conference west where they finished dead last. After losing quarterback Rich Gannon to a season, possibly career ending neck injury, a soft secondary, and big name defensive free agents who did not produce, the only way to go is up. They addressed this problem by drafting defensive players with their first 7 draft choices. And with Gannon having a question mark over his head, they also selected quarterback Andrew Walter out of Arizona State in the 3rd round. But there are some bright spots to focus on. Kerry Collins threw for 3,495 yards and 21 touchdowns, while wide receiver Jerry Porter pulled in 64 receptions, 998 yards, and 9 touchdowns.

The rushing game definitely needs improvement. With Amos Zereoue and Tyrone Wheatley sharing running back responsibilities, they combined for 197 carries, 752 rushing yards, and 7 touchdowns. Without a revamped ground attack, another last place finish would likely become a reality. But the one thing that has the fans in Oakland salivating will be recognized in silver and black jersey that has the last name “Moss” displayed on the back. Basically Randy Moss is best described as an “X” factor. A player who has they ability to take over a game is normally stamped with this label. For 8 seasons, Moss has been the headache for defensive coordinators across the league. Even though he missed 5 games last year, Moss put up 767 receiving yards along with 13 touchdowns. And the scary thing is that these are numbers he considers below standard. If you think Moss is not loved in the bay area, NFLshop.com would beg to differ. Over the past 6 weeks his jersey has been the websites best seller.

If Collins and Moss develop a similar relationship to that of what Moss experienced with Daunte Culpepper in Minnesota, and an improved running game, the offense should be fine, it’s the defense that needs the most attention.

With pro football only months away, the off-season is the most important time for planning on how to stay ahead of the completion, or getting back into the mix of it all. five defensive players with their first seven draft choices. With Gannon having a question mark over his head, they also selected quarterback Andrew Walter out of Arizona State in the third round. Kerry Collins threw for 3,495 yards and 21 touchdowns, while wide receiver Jerry Porter pulled in 64 receptions, 998 yards, and nine touchdowns.

The rushing game definitely needs improvement. With Amos Zereoue and Tyrone Wheatley sharing running back responsibilities, they combined for 197 carries, 752 rushing yards, and seven touchdowns. Without a revamped ground attack, another last-place finish would likely become a reality. But the one thing that has the fans in Oakland salivating will be recognized in a silver and black jersey that has the last name “Moss” displayed on the back.

Basically, Randy Moss is best described as an “X” factor. A player who has they ability to take over a game is normally stamped with this label. For eight seasons, Moss has been a headache for defensive coordinators across the league. Even though he missed five games last year, Moss put up 767 receiving yards along with 13 touchdowns. And the scary thing is that these are numbers he considers below standard. If you think Moss’ on again off again antics could cause some question marks for fans, NFLshop.com would beg to differ. Over the past six weeks his jersey has been the Web site’s best seller.

If Collins and Moss develop a strong chemistry and an improved running game, the offense should be fine. It’s the defense that needs the attention.

With pro football only months away, the off-season is the most important time for planning on how to stay ahead of the improving competition, or getting back into the hunt for a confernece title.